Category Archives: 2.5 stars

Review: The Castaways

The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand

Publisher: Back Bay Books


Source: Publisher

From the cover:

With rumors of infidelity straining Greg and Tess MacAvoy’s marriage, the couple head out on their sailboat one early-summer day to celebrate their wedding anniversary, hoping the roughest waters are behind them. But in an accident off Nantucket, they mysteriously drown, leaving behind two small children as well as the three couples who have long been their closest friends. Tragedy brings to the surface long-simmering conflicts and emotions, and the MacAvoy’s six grieving friends find themselves unprepared for the revelation of secret upon secret as they struggle to answer the question: What happened to Greg and Tess?

The Castaways probes the boundaries of friendship and forgiveness as it tells a page-turning story of passion, betrayal, and suspense, filled with the perfect details of summer island life that have made Elin Hilderbrand’s novels beloved bestsellers.

I had so many issues with this book that I’m not even sure where to begin my review of it. So let me prepare you in advance by telling you that this might come out as a crazy and psychotic rant.

The book covers a wide range of topics from friendships and relationships to dealing with grief and depression. It contained many topics that I would have normally found interesting and entertaining and yet I couldn’t get myself to fully become engaged in the stories of the six remaining friends.

It was difficult for me to look pass the affairs that were occurring between the members of “The Castaways”. While I was reading the book I thought I was going to need to draw myself a diagram of the relationships between the characters because it seemed like everyone had a secret relationship with another person in the group that was not their spouse. Halfway through the book I thought I was reading a book about swapping spouses rather than a book about friends helping one another overcome the loss of their best friends.

Supposedly they were best friends, but it was difficult for me to actually believe that. How could you have an affair with not only your best friend, but also your spouse’s best friend? How could you do that to your spouse as well as the spouse of the person you’re having an affair with and continue to hang out daily and act as if nothing is wrong? How could you look at your other best friends in the face after committing such a crime? I guess my idea of a best friend is different from their idea of one.

When I picked up the book I was hoping for a light, breezy, and fun summer read. Instead, I got a book that read like a soap opera filled with angst and drama. “The Castaways” kept secrets from each other, they lusted after people who weren’t their spouse, and had affairs with one another. I know there are secrets between every group of friends, but not those kinds of secrets. Not secrets that could ripe apart a family and hurt your best friend. Cheating, adultery, and affairs are ultimate no-nos and I kept waiting to see how everything would be resolved. Hilderbrand gave us 8 truly flawed characters and I kept wondering how she was going to give them redemption. Is she going to be able to give them a resolution that would have the reader root for them rather than hate them? For me, the answer was no. Although the ending was better than the rest of the book, I thought she tried to take the easy way out. There was no screaming and yelling, no fighting between friends. It seems like everyone just understood each other and that was it. No need for further discussion. Seriously? You cheat on your spouse with your best friend and everything is forgiven and fine the next day? I don’t think so.

The only character that I actually liked to read about and unfortunately had a pretty minor role compared to the other characters was the chief. He was the only one that was actually interested in uncovering the mystery of his friends’ death, which I found interesting. There were so many scenarios of how Greg and Tess could have died. The mystery of their death as well as what everyone was doing the day before Greg and Tess died kept me intrigued enough to finish the book. Despite liking the chief though, even he wasn’t a perfect character. I had major issues with him ordering his steak well done. I mean, who does that? Honestly, if you want a well done steak, just chew on a rubber tire. It’s going to taste the same and will probably cost you a lot less. I know you can’t hate a character because he or she ordered a well done steak, but I shook my head and cringed every time he did it.

As for the other characters, I was indifferent towards some of them and really hated others. I thought she could have done more with her characters. Delilah mentioned that after being friends and knowing each other for so long the actions of the other members of ‘The Castaways’ were predictable. I say she’s wrong. It wasn’t because she knew the other members for so long that they were predictable. It was because the characters were your typical cookie cutter characters. You had Andrea who was typical mother hen, Jeffrey the farmer, Greg the musician, Addison the businessman, and etc. Of course their actions were predictable. They fell in line with the stereotypes. No surprises there.

This was my first Hilderbrand book, but I can’t say for sure if it will be my last. I’ve read a lot of great reviews about her books before starting this one and I feel like maybe I just grabbed the wrong book to read. I may read one of her other books, but if you have a suggestion, please do share! I know there were quite a few good reviews of this book so even though this book didn’t fit my taste, it may fit yours.

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